Photo by bearshapedsphere on Flickr. Used with permission.
It might surprise you, if you didn’t know a lot about Chile, to know that it’s got a strong German influence. We eat kuchen with our coffee for our evening snack (once), and even say “yah” for “yes” alot of the time. Another thing Chile’s got when it comes to German heritage is a long, and intense love of beer.
Until fairly recently, we were limited to the two main kinds of beer available on the street, which are Escudo and Cristal. Like mass market beers everywhere, they are high on carbonation and low on taste. If you like your beer light, freezing cold, refreshing and kind of mild, these are the beers for you. If, however, you like beer that packs a flavor punch, from delicate wheat beers to syrupy, malty stouts, Chile’s got that, too.
There are a couple of places you can go within Santiago to try a smattering of these beers, but if you really want to tie one on, you’re going to have to take the bus to Malloco the last week of October through first week of November to try some of the very best beers Chile has to offer. At a German events center just 31 km from Santiago, a beergarden sprouts up once a year, and is attended by thousands of Chileans. The entry varies in price from during the week to the weekend, with the weekend prices topping out at 5500 CLP, or around eleven dollars. Kids under 12 are always free, and children up to 17 pay about half price. The event has been going on every year since 2005, and grows larger every year, with more focus on smaller breweries that bring their beer in for the occasion, usually in kegs, but occasionally in bottles. They also sell the bottled beer, but most people come to drink the beer onsite.
In addition to beer, of which there is much, and which you must pay for by the glass, though during the day you may be given tastings if they still have some thimble-sized tasting glasses available, there are events such as dancing and the crowning of a queen. There is German-Chilean food available, with several varieties of grilled sausage and french fries being the main foods available. There is also a crafts fair, a petting zoo (if you can convince the animals to come close to you), and many tents where people go inside to get out of the sun (October and November are very sunny in this part of the world). People also tend to wear any manner of hats and glasses to dress up for the day, from German porkpie hats to viking beanies with golden braids.
For the event website, see here, and to get there, take a bus from the back of the bus station at Universidad de Santiago that goes to Malloco. If you’re going back late, expect to wait for a bus, and possibly have to stand on the way back. Alternatively, arrange transportation through your hotel or a tour provider.